Legal professionals have to be versatile, running from the office, to meetings with clients, to court, to networking events and more. Your wardrobe needs to keep up with your busy schedule. It is important to dress appropriately for each type of occasion. In case you have missed our previous “What to Wear” articles, check out Wardrobe Essentials for Legal Professionals, What to Wear for Legal Professionals: Office Dress Codes, and What to Wear: The Great Panty Hose Debate.
Your visual image is a crucial component of your professional reputation. That includes your wardrobe. If you look sharp, well put together and dress appropriately for different occasions, your image will engender respect, not only for the way you look on the outside, but for who you are on the inside as well. Your image is just as important as the work you do for your firm.
Here are a few guidelines to help you look your best for different occasions:
What to Wear to Court
With almost no exceptions, suits are a must when you go to court. The best colors for suits are navy, charcoal and black. They should be well-fitted (not too big, not too tight) and tailored to fit your body. Collared shirts and ties should be worn by men, and women should wear either a collared shirt or conservative blouse. Shoes should be in good repair and in basic colors like black or brown. Experts suggest that the following should be avoided for a court setting: extremely high heels or platform shoes, heavy or bright makeup, gaudy or big jewelry, dark shirts with dark suits, highly patterned shirts, ties or scarfs. As we mentioned in our earlier article, What to Wear: The Great Panty Hose Debate, it is questionable if panty hose are still required for women in court. If in doubt about what the standards of dress are you’re your area, it is best to take wardrobe cues from other seasoned, successful legal professionals you respect. And, when in doubt, go the conservative route.
What to Wear to a Client Meeting
In general, your attire for meetings with clients should be similar to your everyday office wear, with a few exceptions. For clients who have a very informal/casual environment, you may want to tone down your normal suit and tie to make your look more relatable. Similarly, if your typical office dress code is business casual and you have a formal, Fortune 500 client, you may need to kick your wardrobe up a notch and dress in the same way as you would for a court appearance. Client meetings are one of the occasions where you have the opportunity to showcase your personality with mix and match separates, patterns, jewelry and interesting shoes.
What to Wear to Professional Events
Professional education and networking events are opportunities to meet and network with others in the legal field. There, you could potentially meet your next boss or business partner, so it is important to look your best. If the event is an after-hours networking function, it is acceptable to wear something between business and cocktail attire. For women, this can mean a sheath dress and heels without a blazer and heavier makeup and jewelry than usual. Men can lose the tie or experiment with mixing shirt and tie patterns. For educational events, business casual is usually appropriate. Women’s business casual is comprised of tailored pants, skirts and dresses (not more than an inch or two above the knee) with shirts, blouses, sweaters and less formal blazers. For men, dress pants (or khaki pants) with collared shirts, blazers and tailored sweaters are best. Jeans are not acceptable in business casual dress. As usual, if in doubt, go with professional dress and consult with other legal professionals in your area.
Here’s you to and your wardrobe making the most out of all occasions on your calendar.